Siemens staff vote for industrial action

The strike vote by Siemens staff at the BBC comes after the German company announced it will cut 4,200 IT services jobs from its SIS division

Siemens staff working at the BBC on Friday voted in favour of industrial action, a move intended to protest a pay freeze.

The move comes a day after Siemens announced it would cut about 4,200 jobs worldwide from its IT Solutions and Services (SIS) division, as it reorganises the unit to focus on solutions and IT outsourcing.

Members of the media and entertainment union, BECTU, employed by Siemens voted by an 80 percent majority in favour of action short of a strike, while 65 percent voted in favour of strike action, according to the union.

BECTU said it notified Siemens management of the decision on Friday afternoon and said Siemens will re-enter negotiations in a meeting on Wednesday.

"Our members have clearly demonstrated that this situation is unacceptable, and we're hopeful that by getting back round the table with the employer we can avoid industrial action and reach an amicable settlement," said BECTU national official Suresh Chawla in a statement.

The cuts to Siemens' SIS division will include 2,000 layoffs in Germany. Siemens did not provide figures for other countries. Solutions and Services (SIS) currently employs about 35,000 staff worldwide, including about 3,500 in the UK and about 10,000 in Germany.

Siemens said it would first exhaust all possibilities for voluntary redundancies during the job-cutting process, including the termination of employment contracts by mutual consent and the non-renewal of temporary contracts.

Alongside the layoffs, which are to be completed by the autumn of 2011, Siemens said it will invest more than €500m (£450m) in SIS by 2012, and will make the unit legally independent by October of this year.

The reorganisation is aimed at simplifying SIS's structure and focusing it around two business units — solutions and outsourcing — down from a current seven business units, according to Siemens. The solutions unit will include IT systems integration organised around vertical industry sectors.

The company, based in Munich, employs more than 400,000 staff worldwide. Last year Siemens completed a two-year programme of 17,000 job cuts in administration and sales across the company, and had warned late last year that it would make more division-specific cuts.

In 2008 UK union Unite challenged job cuts announced at the time, saying the company was using UK staff as "poker chips" to secure a higher sale price for a sale of its Enterprise Communications business.

A Unite spokesman told ZDNet UK that the union was not immediately able to comment on the latest round of cuts.

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